Canada Excellence Research Chair appointment builds on McGill’s strength in green chemistry
By McGill Reporter Staff
The decision to come to McGill as the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Green Chemistry and Green Chemicals means Robin Rogers will have to make a number of significant changes to his life. Among other things, it involves coming to a new university, a new city and a new country. One thing that Rogers won’t need to overhaul, however, is his wardrobe.
In making the announcement that Rogers was to become McGill’s second CERC, which comes with some $10 million in federal funding over the next seven years, Senator Larry Smith, representing Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), pointed out that Rogers was sporting a red jacket because he was coming from the University of Alabama, home of college football’s famed Crimson Tide.
However, when Dean of Science Martin Grant took the microphone to introduce Rogers to the audience gathered at the Desautels Faculty of Management for the Sept. 29 announcement, he politely corrected Senator Smith and praised Rogers’ red jacket as “the proud colours of McGill and Canada.”
For his part, Rogers was ever the diplomat. “I cannot tell you what an emotional feeling it is to [join McGill],” he said, pausing with a smile, “and not to have to get rid of my red jacket.”
But the discussion quickly went from red to green, specifically Rogers’s groundbreaking work designing and developing next-generation sustainable biomaterials for use in polymeric materials, fuels and commodity chemicals.
“We are delighted to welcome Professor Robin Rogers, an internationally recognized leader, to Montreal and to our university,” said Principal Suzanne Fortier in a statement. “Professor Rogers is a trailblazer and role model for the next generation of researchers, developing sustainable biomaterials that are positive for the environment and the economy. McGill has long pioneered in a range of green chemistry-related research, including the development of inherently safer solvents for chemical reactions and processes. Professor Rogers will spearhead efforts to redesign chemicals, materials, and manufacturing technologies to prevent pollution and save energy.”
Simply put, said Grant, Rogers “is one of the most eminent chemists of this century.”
Under the CERC Program, the university will receive up to $10 million in funding from the federal government over seven years to support Rogers and his team’s ambitious research program. In addition, funding for research infrastructure will be provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the government of Quebec, and McGill to make available advanced equipment and modern laboratory space, valued at more than $10 million.
This is McGill’s second CERC. The first, Dr. Luda Diatchenko, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Personalized Pain Medicine, was announced in September 2013. With this announcement, there are now 21 chairs in place at 15 universities across the country.
For his part, Rogers said he is eager to help build on McGill’s outstanding strength in new, green manufacturing technologies. “I am looking forward to working with the premier green chemistry [people] in the world – and they are here at McGill. I am excited,” he said. “This is an opportunity to join a world-renowned faculty in an area that is societally important and which the government and the people in Canada have recognized is important.
“McGill is the best place in the world to be working to take sustainable technology to fruition,” Rogers said.